It’s a small Island – with an awful lot of heart. I’d like to give a HUGE shout out to my former home – and the district where my girls went to school! I’m so proud of the community for coming together and making a difference in the lives of children in our own community.
When the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital opens in November, a room on the sports-themed tenth floor for young medical surgical patients will have a nameplate near the door recognizing the Grand Island community. As a community, Grand Island raised $25,000 for the new children’s hospital and is the only community to have a room named after them as part of the hospital’s “Complete a Room with Care” campaign.
The connection between the Buffalo hospital and Grand Island is Dr. Stacey Schroeder Watt, Chief of Service, Anesthesia, at Children’s Hospital. Dr. Watt attended Grand Island Central Schools and her daughters attend William Kaegebein Elementary School. When Dr. Watt mentioned the fundraising campaign to one of her daughter’s teachers, it quickly made its way to the school’s principal, Mary Haggerty, who came up with the idea of a districtwide read-a-thon.
Jumpstarting the campaign with pledges of nearly $10,000 were the 2,890 students at the Grand Island Central School District who dedicated April 7 for the read-a-thon. Students from kindergarten through grade 12 got pledges from family and friends to sponsor their 20-minute reading sessions.
“Every student participated. It was a wonderful way for our students to help others. It was far more successful than we even anticipated,” said Mrs. Haggerty, principal.
Grand Island businesses and residents joined the campaign to raise more than $15,000. An online donation site was created and physical donation sites were placed at businesses across Grand Island.
The community will celebrate this achievement during a special ceremony Aug. 31 at Grand Island High School to present the $25,000 to the leadership of the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. Business owners throughout Grand Island will be part of the ceremony.
“What a joyous celebration it will be as we head to the finish line of this $270 million hospital project,” said Amy Habib Rittling, campaign co-chair. The campaign has raised over $50 million in philanthropic support from local businesses, organizations, foundations, medical practices and the community at large. The “Complete a Room with Care” campaign was designed to help raise an additional $1 million for the hospital. So far over 100 rooms have been completed with another 100 rooms available for those looking for a way to be part in this historic event.
“We are grateful to the people of Grand Island and I am proud to accept their gift on behalf of children and families everywhere,” Habib Rittling emphasizes. “Because without benefactors like the Grand Island community, the children in our community would not be the beneficiaries of such an amazing facility.”
“It isn’t every day a community can build a brand new Children’s Hospital. In fact, there are only 43 stand-alone Children’s Hospitals in the country and Western New York is set to open its state-of-the-art facility on the Buffalo/Niagara Medical Campus some 125 years after the original hospital opened at its current location on Bryant Street,” said Dr. Watt. “I am proud of my hometown community for taking the challenge and our room will be a lasting symbol of the generosity and support of our Grand Island community.”